Everything You Wanted to Know About Art In L.A.* But Were Too Afraid To Ask

 Enfant gâté Ed Ruscha's  Norm's , La Cienega, on Fire (1964) on display at The Broad. 

Enfant gâté Ed Ruscha's Norm's, La Cienega, on Fire (1964) on display at The Broad. 

In the 1970s, Woody Allen opined that Los Angeles's only cultural advantage is that you can make a right turn on a red light. No one, not even Woody Allen, could try and make that joke today.

With its influx of young artists and new institutions, L.A. has seduced the public with its power-grab as the new capitol of the art world. What was once considered a homespun imitation of New York or Paris, Big Art in L.A. has finally come into its own as America's second-largest city among artists, donors, and collectors

In a city that teems with reinvention, is it any wonder that L.A. would eventually become a force in the global art scene? Yet, it seems only recently that our city has gotten a collective nod from the insular, erudite Art World. But we've known it all along—the city has always had more to work with than artifice, and we're determined to explore that idea on all levels. 

WHETHER YOU WANT TO FLEX YOUR CULTURAL MUSCLES AND SUPPORT THE ARTS, OR JUST WANT A NEW PHOTO TO ADD TO THE 'GRAM, SEEKING OUT GALLERIES, MUSEUMS, AND PUBLIC WORKS SHOULDN'T BE AS HARD AS IT SEEMS. 

Here’s BTI's truncated—and ever-evolving—breakdown of the best art in L.A. today. 

The Broad

Perhaps L.A.'s most exciting contemporary museum to open as of late, this private and free (!) museum is sensory-overload at its best.

 
 

LACMA

It's an easy one, for sure, but the county museum is the go-to cultural experience for a reason. The special—yet pricey—exhibits from artists like Robert Mapplethrope, Marc Chagal, and Picasso + Rivera are what keep locals coming back regularly.

Hauser & Wirth

With three other locations around the globe, Hauser & Wirth's West Coast operation guarentees an Instagram-able feast. 

 
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MOCA

As the only artist-funded museum in L.A., MOCA's three distinct venues—Grand Ave, Geffen Contemporary, Pacific Design Center—is always changing it up.

 

The Getty

It's where the architecture is in the same league as the monstrous collection of European and American art spanning medieval times to the present. 

 

ICA LA

The former Santa Monica Museum of Art, the reincarnated version promises to support and feature diverse artists, up-and-coming and established. 

 

Blum & Poe

Of the Kanye West "Famous" video/installation, Blum & Poe's L.A. gallery consistently doles out provocative and challenging exhibits. 

 

California African American Museum

An important first, CAAM is the original African American time capsule of art, history, and culture fully supported by the State of California.

 

Craft and Folk Art Museum

Hop across the street from LACMA to discover the spunky and resourceful CAFAM. 

 

Marciano Art Foundation

This new kid on the block has the best of contemporary art housed in a former Masonic temple. The Marciano brothers (of GUESS Jeans fame) have pooled their private collections to compete as one of the best of art institutions in L.A.

 

Bergamot Station

Surprise yourself with a visit to Bergamot Station galleries to discover on-the-verge and lesser-known artists. 

 

Annenberg Space for Photography

It's a space that never disappoints, with each new subject explored every season with empathy, humor, and subtlety.  

 

The Underground Museum

Billed as an alternative art space, the South L.A. outpost is a tried and true "artist's museum." 

 

Fischer Museum of Art

If anything, USC's Museum of Art was the first museum established in the city of Los Angeles and continues to show contemporary and old master exhibitions. 

 

Frederick R. Weisman Museum

Pepperdine University's museum is a surprisingly impressive art enclave without untouched by the pretension of Malibu's elite.